THE daughter of Collin Reeves, an Afghanistan veteran who is serving life for double murder, has written a letter calling for psychiatric assessments to be carried out on all veterans leaving the forces.

Emily Reeves, 13, from Taunton, wrote the letter as part of an English assignment at school. She hopes to pursue a career in psychology and believes that more could be done to help veterans settle back into civilian life.

Emily said: “I chose to write the letter on that topic, because my dad never got any support, especially when he left the military. I think the incident that happened, would have never happened if he just got the help that he needed from the military.”

Her father Collin Reeves, 37, is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 35 years following the double murder of Stephen and Jennifer Chapple.

Reeves, a former Royal Engineer, knifed the couple six times each at their home in Norton Fitzwarren after a row over parking in November 2021.

Letter written by Emily Reeves on the topic of veteran’s mental health:

“Have you got a family member in the military? When someone leaves the military it can cause anxiety and stress for all involved. Imagine having a stable job for a number of years and then having to go into civilian life. 


I have chosen to spread awareness on this topic because I have a family member who was in the military and they have been through so much. Some may think that leaving the military would help their mental health; others know the reality of it all.


This topic is personal to me because my dad committed a serious crime, all because he didn’t get any help when he left the military. He didn’t receive any treatment as a veteran due to the stigma surrounding seeking mental health care. Because of this I only get to see my dad once a month.


My uncle is also a veteran. He didn’t understand how to deal with his mental health. He only decided to seek help after what happened with my dad. I don’t think it’s acceptable that it takes a huge incident just for them to get help. I think there should be monthly check-ups for people like them.


Did you know that 41% of veterans were found to have a need for mental health care? Recent estimates suggest that 22 veterans commit suicide daily. When leaving the military, a very basic medical assessment is done, but no psychological assessment. Don’t you think that’s the most important part? There is no psychological assessment even when many have suffered from some form of trauma during their service, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Combat soldiers are trained to shut off all emotions and pain so they can be effective in their job. This can lead to severe mental health issues that are not resolved. Also, in America they call their veterans ‘heroes’. It may not seem like a big deal to most people but to them, it is. To get that title is a big deal. But our veterans in the UK don’t get that. There is a large mental health organisation to support veterans in America, only in America.


When leaving the military, they give career and financial advice/support but there is no mention of mental/psychological help and where to get it or who to talk to. Some veterans feel guilt or remorse because of something that happened in their military experience, it’s not them that should feel guilty it’s us. We should be caring for our veterans for putting their lives on hold to serve our country. 


I think that it should be compulsory for all veterans to get a psychological assessment done when leaving the military. I also think that if America is helping out their veterans, we should too, why aren’t we?”


The maximum term of Collin Reeves’ sentence was reduced by three years, from 38 to 35, following an appeal in March of last year. 

Three appeal judges at a Court of Appeal hearing in London concluded that Mr Justice Garnham, who oversaw a trial at Bristol Crown Court in June 2022, should have given “more weight” to “mitigating factors”.

Lord Justice Holroyde said the issue was whether Mr Justice Garnham correctly balanced mitigating and aggravating factors. Those factors included Reeves’ remorse, depression, military service and confession. 

A spokesperson for the British Army said: "We cannot comment on individual cases. However, our personnel are our most valued asset and we take the condition of their health and wellbeing extremely seriously.

"We have significantly improved the support provided to enable our people to recognise the signs of mental health distress in themselves and in others, and to encourage them to seek help earlier. 

"We provide pre-and post-operational stress management training; a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments; and initiatives such as Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), which provides peer-to-peer support after a traumatic incident. 

"There is also a range of help available for serving personnel and veterans including the 24-hour mental health helpline, mental resilience training for employees and our mental fitness tool, HeadFIT, a clinically assessed website which hosts a suite of mental fitness tools to assist the user in developing a proactive approach to mental fitness: to enhance mood, drive and confidence, and mitigate the stressors of everyday life. 

"Our mental health helpline for serving personnel and their families is in operation so there is somewhere to turn in times of crisis, and we have partnered with the Samaritans to publish a guide helping serving personnel spot when their peers may be in need of support. 

"The Annual Mental Fitness Brief is mandated for all personnel, delivering an understanding of mental health  and wellbeing, stress management, how to transform stress into mental resilience and where personnel can seek appropriate help. 

"There is also a range of help available for serving personnel and veterans, more information can be found at Gov.UK: Mental health support for the UK Armed Forces and NHS: Mental health support for veterans, service leavers and reservists."